The ART Grand Prix team endured a mixed weekend at Monza, with Stoffel Vandoorne taking his third victory of his rookie season in the Feature race before almost stalling at the start of the Sprint race that cost him any chance of points, while Takuya Izawa crashed out of the Feature before finishing fifteenth in the sprint just behind Vandoorne.
Vandoorne was superb all through practice, qualifying and the Feature race, holding off Campos Racing’s Arthur Pic throughout to claim the victory, and the Belgian praised his team for all of the efforts they have put in to enable him to be in regular contention for wins in recent races.
“Two poles in a row is a very good result and it reflects the fantastic work done by ART Grand Prix, who have given me a great car this weekend just as they did in Spa,” said Vandoorne. “We had our hard times after Bahrain but we never gave up and now it is paying off.
“I had a good start and opened up a gap at both starts and then before the pit stop. That was one of the keys. Another key was the team’s pit stop; it was just awesome. Arthur Pic pushed hard in the end and I upped my game to hold him off and win my 3rd race this season.
“Unfortunately, it’s not often that I have two clean races in the same weekend and this time I lost every chance of fighting for points when I almost stalled on the grid.”
Team-mate Izawa was unfortunate to be collide with Rene Binder that put the Japanese driver out of the Feature race, and was unable to make much progress from near the back of the field in the Sprint race. He feels a return to the points is not far away, especially as he believes the progress he is making with his team is encouraging.
“I missed 1 tenth of a second in qualifying and that’s a pity because I could have started from the 4th row and avoided the traditional chaos of the first turn in Monza and I would have a chance to have a clean race,” said Izawa. “But that’s racing and there was nothing I could do about it. Still, I’m happy with the way we’re working with ART Grand Prix and with the progress we’ve made.
“We have to keep pushing as all the signs are encouraging and we should be back in the points soon.”
Team Principal Frederic Vasseur was delighted with how Vandoorne performed all the way through from Friday practice until the end of the Feature race, and believes the young McLaren F1 reserve driver would have been a serious championship contender had he not endured the tough run of bad luck and results after his first win of the season in Bahrain.
“Stoffel almost ticked all the boxes off the checklist of a perfect weekend between the practice session and the end of the first race: speed, intelligence, handling of the package and mental strength,” said Vasseur. “Since the 4th round of the season at the Red Bull Ring, he has scored more points than anyone else. Without a few collective difficulties after Bahrain, he would be a serious title contender. It’s exceptional for a rookie who is fighting against drivers who have 3 and 4 seasons under their belt.
“Takuya keeps stunning the team with his ability to adapt to every situation, by his attitude and his race pace. He deserves to get back into the points sooner rather than later.”